Today I spent an inspiring morning with a load of people who have all, in different ways, run prayer rooms in school. The gathering was hosted by the Phil Togwell and the City of London Boiler Room team. It was great to see their new home in Dowgate Hill, right in the City of London by Cannon Street station, even if it is still a bit chaotic following their sudden move there a few weeks ago.
Meeting in the local Starbuck's (the only suitable space… really!) we shared stories from Colchester, Chichester and Romford about what had been done, the impact it had made and what we sensed was the next step for each of us. We then looked at how we develop this amazing emerging opportunity so that others can pick it up and run with it in their own area. Phil helpfully identified three key areas that we need to refine and develop:
- The way of working – differentiating the model of spiritual development and prayer that is appropriate to the age group and context of a school situation, as distinct from the ways we would set up and run a prayer room in a church for people who are predominantly Christian. This will include some reflection on the spiritual development of young people and the opportunities and expectations presented by the school curriculum, the Department for Children, Schools and Familes and OFSTED.
- How to – developing the necessary educational and procedural foundations for prayer rooms in schools. This would include reference to educational goals as well as stuff like Risk Assessments and Child Protection policies. We already have these for Sanctum.
- A creative bank of resources and activities – we felt it was important to gather together the wide variety of proven creative ideas that people have used for others to access. However, it will be imprtant that people wishing to run a prayer room in a school understand 1 & 2 before diving into 3!
We also discussed briefly a helpful definition of spiritual health, the spectrum of implicit vs explicit Christian spirituality and how this might be represented appropriately in school, the interplay of information, experience and relationships, and one or two ways in which we might widen the discussion and encourage others.
At 1pm I set off back for Colchester, only to get stuck in a train traffic jam caused by vandals cutting through the wires controlling the signalling system between Marks Tey and Colchester. In the end my one hour journey took nearly three hours which wiped out the rest of the day! However, I'm looking forward to getting more involved in the process of deepening and broadening our understanding and experience of running prayer rooms in schools and colleges.